Review: Dark Secrets

Dark Secrets: A Paranormal Noir Anthology

Provocative, refreshing, melancholy and reminiscent of Grimm Fairy Tales @jeffekennedy @rachelcaine @MEGAN_HART @SpiceBites #Bookreview
Dark Secrets: A Paranormal Noir Anthology by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Provocative, refreshing, melancholy and reminiscent of Grimm Fairy Tales.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories.  Usually in an anthology I read it for one author.  I generally hope that I like that author's story.  It's always iffy with anthologies because the more authors, the more chances one of the stories could disappoint and the overall rating drop.  After reading this book, I'm still loving the authors who made me want to read this book.  In addition, I've found new authors I must explore.

Marion, Missing by Rachel Caine kicks the book off with a racial film noir theme.  It's bold to bring this type of racial setting in today's racially tense environment.  I liked it.  Ms. Caine does an excellent job of creating a likeable flawed anti-hero.  Valentine is a guy who does the right thing despite his jaded view.  This story moved fast and smooth. The imagery is vivid.  Ms. Caine makes the story come alive.  I could see the book play in my mind in like a black and white film.  There would be accents of colours here and there.   The ending is unfortunately what I anticipated and it leaves me satisfied albeit un peu triste.  Loved it.

Femme fatale by Cynthia Eden is an enjoyable.  The story is a bit predictable and the characters didn't pull me in too much.  Mick Swayne is a decent PI.  Savannah wasn't an anti-heroine.

Dance with the Devil by Megan Hart is probably the most painful one to read.  This is to be expected as I'm a devoted masochist to Ms. Hart's skillful torment.  Ms. Hart is so good at slipping a dagger into my heart and twisting it whilst I'm still trying to come to terms with the story.  I loved this story from beginning to end.  The twists and turns broke my heart.  Ms. Hart possesses a gift.  She forces me to respond in every story she writes.  Her characters may not always be ones I like or admire, but they always make me feel.  If I want a book which invokes strong sentiments, Ms. Hart is my go to author.  I feel hung over after reading her books because of how her characters and situations speak to me.  For me, Ms. Hart is a sadist unparalleled by any other.  She is a psychic vampire manipulating readers to feel intensely and then leave them drained.  The ending slayed me.  This story is the only one where there was no black and white.  It is truly a question of does the ends justify the means?

The Consort by Suzanne Johnson pleasantly surprised me.  I love fae stories.  I am a complete sucker for fae and when there is a Hunter in them, I'm a wet puddle.  When the Hunter creates a bar which contains a fantasy "holodeck" where one can be prey to a Hunter and end up in quite the consensual non-con scene, I'm even more hooked.  This world where the Summer and Winter princes are at odds with each other promises to be an interesting read.  I can only hope Ms. Johnson writes more in this universe because it can go really dark and I'd love it.  The Summer Prince's sexual cruelty would be guiltily arousing.  Seeing how Faulk and Lia try to survive the oncoming war will be intriguing.  I'll be keeping my eye on Ms. Johnson.

Full disclosure, I received this arc for Heart's Blood by Jeff Kennedy.  I was not disappointed.  I love reading about the Twelve Kingdoms and this reinterpretation of the Goose Girl worked for me.  I liked the magic.  I liked the brutality.  I loved the Prince and I loved Nix.  They may not have been as complex as Ms. Hart's characters, but they still appealed to me.  This story is black and white in villain versus hero.  There are no anti-heroes here.  There is only betrayal and a rewarding ending a la Grimm style.  I loved the ending, even if it was predictable.

Who is this Mina Khan?  This is probably my second favourite story in the book.  The Djinn in the Mirror is rich with descriptions.  I could feel the desert heat.  I could see the dusty attic.  I could hear and feel the earth tremors.  This tightly written story about Cinderella mixed with Snow White is innovative and delightful.  Taking an old and familiar concept and making it fresh is impressive.  The characters are well written.  The anti-hero , Ashmael is definitely delicious.  The sex in this story is the only thing which didn't work for me.  I didn't really care for it and whilst I understand the need for it in the story, it detracted from the story.  Ms. Khan writes an excellent sexual build up with teasing tension.  However, when the sexual act commences, it's a bit too vanilla for me to enjoy.  Where's the kinky stuff?  The cock teasing ribbon around Dahlia's neck made me hope for some rough kinky sex.  The world building in this book is great and I want to learn more about the war.  I want to learn more about the Djinn.  I really hope there are stories about some of the secondary characters.  This is an author to watch.

Those who are looking for dark non-con or dub-con, this may be too sweet for you.  Those who are looking for anti-heroes that we love to hate, there are none here.  This anthology is recommended for paranormal romance lovers who enjoy a bit of sorrow and pain before they get their happily ever afters.  My final thought…what is it about whiskey dick?  Seriously, is this like Super Troopers where they had a phrase they all had to slip in? 

*I received this book as a review copy in return for an honest review

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Rashda Khan said…
Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful review. So thrilled you enjoyed the collection!
It was an awesome collection! I hope everyone reads it.

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